The season of yellow has passed. The wildflowers of spring and the many shades of yellow are replaced by the many shades of blue. Lilac and wisteria in the garden and bluebells in the woods.
The sky was painted with a thin layer of paint to allow the later layers of the foliage to sit on top without too much interference from the white in the sky mix. When painting ‘wet on wet’, this is always a problem. The white will destroy the rich shadows. The darker colours were placed on top in blobs of solvent rich paint. Any attempt to ‘paint’ in the traditional manner will cause mixing.
When it came to painting the trunks of the trees this mixing with the under colour produced the lighter shades. Just drawing the brush across the surface was enough to lift the lighter sky colour. For the darker fine tree branches I dragged some of the aforementioned blobs of paint in lines to suggest the branches. This is easier than loading the brush with paint and sketching the multitude of fine lines required.
The colours used were Winsor Lemon, Permanent Rose and Cobalt Blue, plus black and white.
The landscape is a rich green. Sunshine giving the illusion of Summer interspersed with cold Polar winds.
I tried to convey the two sided nature of the countryside at this time. The diagonal split in the sky in echoed in the overall composition.
This has the same 3 colours (Cadmium Yellow, Indian Red, Prussian Blue) as the previous painting. There is no medium used, only White Spirits. The Indian Red is very necessary in the green mixes. The Yellow/Blue mix to produce the green colour is darkened by the addition of the red, great for adding contours in the green featureless areas. The problem is the dark green colours are too warm to convey shadows. The initial blue under-painting is allowed to peep through and add a coolness in the shadows.
Similar to the previous painting, but with more warmth in the overall colouring. This time Cadmium Yellow was used, the last painting had Lemon Yellow. Two very different yellows. Lemon is a pure yellow, Cadmium has an orange tinge. Resultant mixes are warm, especially the greens.
You will remember the last painting was on ‘oil painting’ paper. I could not let this scene pass without giving it another go on the nice rough texture of canvas. On the canvas there is latitude in the brushing, by this I mean the odd, stray brush stroke is easier to correct on the rough surface. Also there is latitude in the amount of paint that can be applied and still be manipulated to the desired effect. On the smooth surface, its easy to add too much, especially in the under layers, making later additions difficult to add on top. This is always a difficulty when painting wet on wet as I do.
This painting uses 3 colours, Cadmium Yellow, Indian Red, Prussian Blue, plus black and white.
Here’s the video of the painting process, see you soon.
Its not an overnight event, the greening of the landscape, but a gradual emergence. Its more interesting for a painter than the later green overload we get in this part of the world.
This was painted on a piece of scrap oil painting paper. I’m awaiting a supply of my usual ground which is a prepared canvas sold in pads and made by “Fredrix”, a US manufacturer, available here in Ireland. Canvas has a ‘tooth’ or texture and this makes the art of painting in oils a little easier. This ‘oil painting paper’ was not easy to paint on. Although it had a ‘canvas like’ texture pressed into the surface, it was not rough enough to scrape the paint off the brush. After a few layers of very thin paint are applied the texture is saturated and thereafter the brush is effectively sliding over the surface picking up more paint than is laid down. Allowing under layers to dry really does not relieve the situation as the texture is now non-existent and you are painting on a smooth surface.
My comments on this paper is in relation to my particular method which involves placing blobs of paint on the canvas surface and mixing and manipulating to get the desired effect. The final painting will still have the canvas texture visible so the actual paint layer is very thin but way too thick for the paper.
Remember, painting surfaces sold for use as acrylic or oil painting may be too absorbent for oils. I have found this to be the the case with all such products and in the past would ‘size’ the paper with a thin coat of Rabbit Skin Glue Size, the recommended sealant for oil painting surfaces. A simple test for a surface which might be too absorbent is to place a few drops of solvent on the surface and see does it go straight through to the back of the sheet. If it does the paper will be translucent when viewed against a strong light. There should be a little bit of absorption to anchor the paint layer to the surface but too much will make oil painting impossible as the oil and solvent soaks into the surface leaving a ‘chalky’ sticky pigment very different from the paint as it left the tube.
The colours used here were Winsor Lemon Yellow, Indian Red and Cerulean Blue. No medium used, only solvent (White Spirits). I used 2 brushes, a No. 8 filbert bristle and a nylon rigger. The painting is 12″x9″ and was finished in a single painting session of an hour and a half.
It was short lived, and now, the landscape is being scraped by a North Westerly more vicious than anything thrown at us during the entire winter. There will be very few blossoms left on the fruit trees this spring and probably very few leaves either.
This method is a departure from my usual very wet method using solvent. The only time I used solvent was on the distant hills, the details of the trunks and branches of the trees, and the foreground grasses.
The colours are Cadmium Yellow, Indian Red and Cobalt Blue. Indian Red is similar to Burnt Sienna but more intense. When mixing yellow and blue to produce green, I usually add a little red to make a more ‘natural’ green. Indian Red does not mix well and very little goes a long way. After painting the darker shades, using a mix of red and blue, progressing to the lighter coloured greens using the same brush, without cleaning, provided enough red to ‘naturalise’ the green.
The same 3 colours are present in all areas of the painting. Its the proportions of each that produce the final colours. However, sometimes this can be a little dull so the very last brush strokes were tiny spots of the unmixed raw colours, mostly red and blue, to add a little sparkle.
Burning gorse (a heather-like plant) is a traditional method of removing the old plants to be replaced by new growth which provides grazing for livestock. The recent dry spell allowed some of these fires to get out of control. At one point the Killarney National Park was threatened by gorse fires close to its border. Eventually it rained and that put a stop to the wild fires.
When choosing the colours for this painting the rainbow was the first consideration. The range of colours produced by Winsor & Newton, Winsor red to purple, are closest to the colours of the spectrum. Painting a rainbow must be one of the most difficult tasks for a painter, especially an ‘alla prima’ painter.
A rainbow glows and paint does not glow with the colours merging seamlessly into each other. My effort was an approximate rainbow of Alarizon Crimson, Winsor Lemon Yellow, Cobalt Blue and Dioxazine Purple. The missing colours of orange, green and indigo were from the overlaps.
I put the 4 rainbow colours on the brush (see video) and applied the paint in a series of ‘swipes’, building up the colours. Initially the colours were too strong and had to be blended into the background. This of course reduces colour strength and also chroma, the closest thing to ‘glowing’ in a painted rainbow.
The materials, as usual, were very limited. The 4 colours above, a single filbert bristle (No. 12) and a nylon liner, and White Spirits (solvent). The size is 12″x9″.
After the greys and browns of winter, this blaze of bright yellow is surreal. And yet, despite their vivid colour, they are very much an integrated part of the emerging spring growth. There are good years and bad years for wild daffodils. This year is a good year. Very often an apparently random scattering of daffodils is all that remains of a cottage or farm house obliterated in the agricultural modernisation of the 1960’s.
For the bright yellow of the daffodils I used Winsor Lemon Yellow. This colour is a pure yellow without any hint of red, unlike Cadmium Yellow which I had thought of using. By using a ‘reddish’ background, provided by Burnt Sienna, and hints of blue (Cobalt) produced a contrast to the pure yellow of the Lemon Yellow. As the Lemon was the only yellow used throughout the entire painting the pure form used in the flowers was not disconnected from the general colour scheme. I have the striking yellow of the daffodils within a harmony of spring colour.
The 3 colours used are Winsor Lemon Yellow, Burnt Sienna and Cobalt Blue. The size is 12″ x 9″.
Here’s the video of the painting process, see you soon.